I have an antique wooden box which has a nasty crack in it. There is a very dark brown material that seems to form the background of the image and which I would need to fill the crack (I think). Here is a picture of the whole box (perhaps this helps date the period or technique used) and a zoomed in view of one of the cracks:

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Does anyone know what kind of material this might be - and what I could use as a good substitute (assuming that the "old" material might be hard to get hold of)? This box has no commercial value (AFAIK) but lots of sentimental value - so I would like to do this right if possible (I experimented a bit with epoxy and tinting powder and so far the results are not even close).

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    This is a tricky type of repair to do (and harder to do well) even if you have a good strategy to follow and are familiar with the materials and methods required. My advice would be to leave it alone, until such time you can afford to take it to a restorer or experienced woodworker who is comfortable tackling work of this nature. – Graphus Sep 11 '17 at 7:24
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    As to what the top is it's hard to tell from the photos because they're so small (we can accept full-size images here, they get shrunk down automatically for viewing) but this may intarsia or marquetry. If that's how it's made it could have been more colourful originally and the colours have muted over time due to light exposure and the discolouration of the coating (varnish or shellac or wax or oil). – Graphus Sep 11 '17 at 7:28
  • @Graphus I made the pictures bigger. Does that help? I suspect this is marquetry rather than intarsia after reading about both. Could this be "India ink and shellac" or is that only ever used for the small details? – Floris Sep 11 '17 at 12:21
  • Some of the details do look like they're drawn in with ink, on top of the marquetry-cut pieces. Since ink was used I was thinking the edges might have been coloured too (Indian ink is a good way to ebonise lighter woods) but if they're black through and through then it's likely ebony was used. The type of flaking also suggests ebony, which can unfortunately be quite brittle (although any wood in veneer form can be prone to flaking).. – Graphus Sep 12 '17 at 7:31

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